Posts Tagged ‘zoos’

Bison Business – Spreading the Word about Bison Day

by | October 30th, 2014

Oakland Zoo is thrilled to be celebrating National Bison Day this Saturday, November 1st.

The first National Bison Day was celebrated in 2012 as part of a campaign to classify the American Bison as the National Mammal of the United States. The Oakland Zoo would love to help spread the word about this campaign and this wonderful animal.

Photo Credit: Alicia Powers

Photo Credit: Alicia Powers

National Bison Day is the perfect time to spread the word about the campaign to designate the bison as our National Mammal. Here’s what you can do:

Visit votebison.org and www.beardsforbison.org

Take a photo of yourself with a real or fake beard. This Saturday, post it to social media and be sure to tag it with #BeardsforBison to get it trending!

Visit Oakland Zoo this Saturday, stop by our Action for Wildlife tables in Flamingo Plaza to learn more about bison and this national campaign and to enter a drawing for an exciting behind-the-scenes Bison Feeding. We will also have a Beards for Bison station for you to do a selfie.

Here Are Some Unusual Bison Facts for Your Enjoyment and Education:

The American Bison is the largest land mammal in the country.

During the “megafauna extinctions” at the end of the last ice age when woolly mammoths, saber-toothed tigers, and dire wolves went extinct, the Bison genus managed to survive.

Their strongest sense is not their vision or hearing, but their sense of smell.

They have horns that are permanent rather than antlers that are seasonal.

Bison wallow in dust for relief from flies and other insects.

Bison gestation is 9 months and they usually give birth in April or May.

There are many theories as to why bison have a hump. One is that it gives them more leverage to plow through the snow in winter.

The bison has been on the official seal of the Department of the Interior since 1912 and is on state flags for Wyoming and Kansas.

In the mid-1800’s the bison population plummeted from over 40 million to just a few hundred individuals in about 60 years. The demand for bison meat and robes in combination with the ease of hunting, transporting, and manufacturing almost resulted in the extinction of the bison. It was the work of a handful of ranchers who protected and preserved enough individuals in privately owned herds until the federal government could establish permanent public herds. Today, there are 10 major public bison herds, and national population of over a 100,000.

Photo credit: Alicia Powers

Photo credit: Alicia Powers

Oakland Zoo’s bison herd is composed of 4 beautiful cows (female bison), Ann, Twin, Winky, and Nickel. Our oldest girl is 27 years old, and our youngest girl is 21. They enjoy lounging around in their spacious exhibit which also happens to be the highest exhibit at the zoo. They spend their days grazing on the grasses and weeds in addition to the hay, fruits, veggies, and grain that their keepers provide them on a daily basis. Right now, they are in the process of growing in their winter coats in preparation for the cold season ahead. The best way to see them is to catch a lift on the Zoo’s Skyride (open weekends) where you can also get an overhead view of our tigers, giraffe, lions, camels, elephants, and elk.

Hidden Treats: The Fun Diet of an Oakland Zoo Sun Bear

by | June 18th, 2013

zena-the-zookeeperHey kids! Zena the Zookeeper here. Welcome to my cool new blog! Now you can read about my awesome zookeeping adventures at Oakland Zoo online.

Sun-bear-with-tongue-out_web You know what I love best about being a zookeeper? No, it’s NOT all the poop I have to shovel. What I love best is taking care of the sun bears. They’re so fun to watch, especially when they’re moving around their exhibit, searching and sniffing, climbing and clawing to find their food.

In case you didn’t already know, our bears are omnivorous (om-NIV-er-us). That means they eat a variety of food—meat as well as veggies, just like you do (okay, maybe with the exception of the meal worms!) And here at Oakland Zoo, we like to give them as much variety as possible. Here’s some of the fun food treats that the bears get every day:

  • SWEET MIX: made up of popcorn, dates, peanuts, raisins, coconut and Fruit Loops (the only cereal they like.)
  • FRUIT & VEGETABLES: like grapes, pineapple, melon and yams to make sure the bears have a well-balanced diet, which is as important for animals as it is for kids.
  • HOMEMADE RICE CAKES: cooked and mixed with fun flavors such as almond, coconut or maple syrup
  • PEANUT BUTTER: mixed with other treats, or big dabs of it on tree trunks, or leftover jars from home for them to lick clean with their long tongues.
  • MEAL WORMS: yummy crawly treats like the ones wild bears find in rotten tree trunks

But I don’t just toss this stuff in a bowl on the kitchen floor like you do with your pets at home. I hide it inside all kinds of fun containers that I put around the exhibit for the bears to find and explore with their tongues and claws, such as:

  • PLASTIC DRINK BOTTLES with grapes or raisins inside
  • HARD PLASTIC PLUMBING PIPES with holes drilled in them for getting at the treats
  • HOLLOW BAMBOO STALKS stuffed with small treats
  • PINE CONES smeared with sticky treats like peanut butter or honey
  • HOLLOW PLASTIC PET TOYS filled with treats and frozen into popsicles
  • HARD PLASTIC BOOMER BALLS I smear peanut butter or jam on the outside for them to lick off  

I bet your meals at home aren’t this much fun. But your mom probably has enough work to do already, don’t you think? Luckily, I’ve got a lot of helpers here at the Zoo.

ZENA’S QUICK QUESTION: How many sun bears do we have at Oakland Zoo and what are their names?

The next time you come to the Zoo, be sure to check out the bear exhibit and you’ll find out the answer. Also, if you want to check in on the sun bears from home, did you know you can watch Oakland Zoo’s Sun Bear Cam? Here’s a link to it: http://www.oaklandzoo.org/Sun_Bear_Cam.php

You’ll also see how much fun it is to be an Oakland Zoo sun bear. Well, that’s all for now. This is Zena the Zookeeper saying “See you next time!

What Measure A1 Means for Tortoises

by | October 18th, 2012

Aldabra tortoises are among the largest in the world – sometimes weighing in at over 500 pounds! Anyone who has spent any amount of time with them will tell you that each one has a distinct and very interesting personality. In fact as a zookeeper, one of my favorite animals to introduce visitors to is the tortoises because I never get tired of seeing people fall in love with them.
The Oakland Zoo has six Aldabra tortoises ranging in age from 40 years old to more than 100 years old! Gigi – one of our middle aged tortoises (she’s about 80 years old) received a wound on her shell last year after one of the male tortoises was little rough in his mating ritual. Turtle shells take a VERY long time to heal and require x-rays to monitor the progress. Just try x-raying through the shell of a giant tortoise. It’s not easy and requires very special equipment -the type of equipment that we haven’t had on zoo grounds.
Last year, in order to monitor Gigi’s progress, we had to take her all the way to UC Davis where she could have a CT scan on their larger and stronger equipment. The scan showed us that our treatment was working, but now it is time to check on her again.
Moving a giant tortoise is no easy feat! It requires several people to lift and move her. Then we need a van that she will fit in and it has to have climate control because reptiles are ectothermic. Of course, it is also stressful on her to be removed from her group, make a two hour drive to Davis, be put into a large machine for the scan and drive two hours back to the Zoo afterwards. That’s a pretty crazy day for a tortoise.
If Measure A1 passes this November, our new veterinary hospital will be outfitted with a brand new high powered x-ray machine – one that will be capable of going through a giant tortoise shell. This means that Gigi will have a five minute drive to the hospital and be finished in less than an hour – rather than taking a full day! A great deal less stressful for her, which means improved animal welfare!

Gigi says “Vote YES” on Measure A1!

What Measure A1 means for Baboons

by | October 15th, 2012

In Africa, Hamadryas baboons are called Sacred baboons because they were once worshipped in Egypt. Six Hamadryas baboons currently call the Oakland Zoo their home, but until this year, there were only five. We brought in Daisy, an elderly female, from another zoo after her mate passed away. Many Zoos would not have taken on the burden of an elderly animal with so many health problems, but that is what makes the Oakland Zoo different.

Daisy came to us with a host of age related medical problems. Like many elderly animals (and people), she has arthritis and requires daily medication with anti-inflammatories to make her comfortable. She also gets a glucosamine supplement to ease the strain on her joints. In addition, she needed some pretty extensive dental work when she arrived, so we brought in the experts from UC Davis’ Veterinary Medical School three times to perform the procedures.

None of this care is low cost, but here at the Oakland Zoo we take our responsibilities to the animals very seriously. The welfare of all the animals is our top priority. Getting great medical care means many animals are outliving their normal expected lifespan, which requires even more care. Daisy is 31 years old. The youngest baboon in our group is 22 years old, this means we have an aging group of animals who are going to continue to need geriatric care. If Measure A1 passes, we can continue to provide the high level of care to all of our Sacred baboons as they reach their golden years. Please consider voting “YES” on Measure A1 this November.

Internship Weeks 11 & 12: My last two weeks

by | October 2nd, 2012

Intern Stephanie Lo

These last two weeks conclude my summer internship at the Oakland Zoo. During my past three months as an intern, I’ve made popsicles for lemurs, I’ve given belly rubs to pigs, and I’ve befriended a goat. By the end of my summer, I have become familiar with zoo animal husbandry through my daily routine and through the intern classes. The Oakland Zoo’s intern program is an excellent opportunity to gain experience working with zoo animals.

Nubian goats in the Oakland Zoo’s contact yard.

Oftentimes, I work in the Children’s Zoo contact yard, where visitors brush and pet the plethora of sheep and goats. The yard houses five sheep, six Pygmy goats, four Nubian goats and one Boer goat. The Pygmy goats are particularly popular among the zoo’s children visitors because of the goats’ short stature and tolerant attitude. Working in the contact yard involves keeping the area clean while ensuring the safety of the visitors and animals. There is a retreat pen in the barn where goats and sheep can retreat, if they want some personal space from visitors.

Scarlet, one of the three cats, wearing a “Cat Bib” when she goes outside of the cat cottage.

Three long-haired cats named Billy, Cali and Scarlet live in the “cat cottage” adjacent to the Contact Yard. After feeding the goats and sheep in the morning, I usually let the cats outside into the Contact Yard and made sure they didn’t wander off. Whenever the cats roam outside, they wear “cat bibs” that are designed to prevent them from successfully catching birds. The bibs are supposed to inhibit their normal pouncing motion, and I think they’re quite the fashion statement.

As part of the animal husbandry, I brush Ginny with the FURminator before letting her out on exhibit.

Part of my routine is brushing Ginny, one of the rabbits before letting her out of the night house. She was slightly skittish the first time I brushed her, but soon after she relaxed and began munching on her hay. Rabbits shed quite a bit of hair, but the FURminator helped me loosen and remove the undercoat.

On Tuesday, I got the chance to spend a few hours working up at the giraffe barn. I helped fill containers with pellets and produce, while the giraffe intern hung up branches of browse. My absolute favorite moment was hand feeding carrots to Tiki, one of the zoo’s giraffes.

 

Tiki is one of the Oakland Zoo’s giraffes.

Summer is quickly coming to a close. Shortly, I’ll be back in college fighting sleep deprivation and jumping headfirst into fall quarter classes. In some ways, it seems like I’ve been interning for far more than three months; I can’t imagine not feeding breakfast to the lemurs or hearing the familiar bleating of the goats in the morning.

What Measure A1 means for….Bats!

by | September 25th, 2012

Did you know there are more than a 1000 different species of bats? Oakland Zoo has two of the largest species, the Island Flying Fox and the Malaysian Flying Fox. Both are diurnal fruit eating species and as the names suggest, they come from the Islands of Malaysia and Indonesia. Caring for species from all over the world means that many of them are not adapted to our Bay Area weather, so days that feel warm to us, may feel chilly to tropical or desert animals. Days that are cold for us, may feel warm to arctic or high altitude animals.

Flying Foxes are no different; their bodies are adapted to warm, humid, tropical weather. They find our summers pleasant, but winters are just a touch too cold for them! To combat this problem, zookeepers maintain large night quarters which are kept at a constant 75 degrees. This way, our bats are kept warm and comfortable no matter what the Bay Area brings us. However, bats also love sunshine (who doesn’t!) and spend a great deal of their daylight hours outside basking during the summer. In the winter, they are frequently unable to go outside even on sunny days due to the cold temperatures. If Measure A1 passes, the zoo will be able to provide outdoor heating sources for the bats in the winter, so they can bask in the sunlight and stay toasty warm no matter how cold it is outside. The zoo will be able to provide the best of both worlds and maintain a high standard of care and welfare.

Please consider voting “Yes” on Measure A1 on November 6th.